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‘As a couple we’ve faced both homophobia and Islamophobia, but we’re still here 25 years later’

By Will Stroude

My partner and I recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. It was a low key event, just the two of us spending the day together and carrying on as usual with our regular daily routine. It could have been much more remarkable and a lavish affair as I tend to be the more gregarious, sociable one but with my other half being the more insular, private individual, I reached a compromise and opted for a quiet time.

I had planned to throw a party but he said he doesn’t like large gatherings or surprises, so it was left to the last minute to plan an evening meal out with a female friend.

The good thing about it though was I had spent the evening prior to our anniversary baking our celebration cake until 1am and ensured it was all ready for our big day.

Baking until the early hours provided me with enough time to reflect over the last 25 years and how we have manged to share our lives together, with all our differences and similarities.

I identify as a 47-year-old, British Muslim gay man and my partner is a 67-year-old white British man. My religious roots are grounded in Islam but I consider myself to be a spiritual Muslim, whilst he is Church of England.

We identify as interracial, interfaith and inter-generational. When we met, I think we broke all the taboos. But I didn’t see it that way. What I felt was the need to connect.

I was 22, he was 43. The age gap of 21 years did not matter.

The differences in our religion, ethnicity, age and cultural backgrounds were not an issue for us as a couple. However, the homophobia and Islamophobia we faced from others did become an issue for us. It was either a case of end the relationship and be heartbroken, or follow what we felt for each other and seeing where the journey in life would take us.

We learnt to discuss and share what we felt and experienced on a daily basis, explored the different family dynamics and our own personal wants and desires.

As a gay couple, we connect in so many ways, yet we are so completely opposite.

For example, I love reading and writing, social media, socialising, pepper, the arts, tea, vegetables, dance music.

He doesn’t have the patience to read a book, thinks social media is about people wanting to promote themselves and prefers his own company, loves salt, the news, coffee, meat and chill out music.

Our experiences and upbringing might shape us, but is how we interconnect which empowers us and enables us to move forward. We respect each other’s personalities, flaws and foibles and accept the whole being. We don’t focus on the one identity. We consider all our multi-faceted layers of identity, the intersections and the nuances. But as we navigate through it, we realise our Love is One Love and mutual understanding of each other is the most important aspect of our relationship.

We keep discovering new things about each other and are forever educating each other in order to maintain a healthy equilibrium. We talk and talk and have been compared to Hinge and Brackett!

And as our desires, needs and wants never appear to wane, through expression of oneself and communication, we look to many more years of unity and forward planning.

Khakan Qureshi is the founder of Birmingham South Asians LGBT – Finding A Voice, which you can follow on Facebook and Twitter @brumasianslgbt.

Follow Khakan on Twitter @khakanqureshi

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